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Trends in Tech: Bring on the 4K
This year’s CES has not failed in terms of the unveiling of all kinds of tech. From the unusual glass keyboards to the usual smartphones, the goods were delivered. Amongst the long list of devices unveiled at the show, one of the biggest trends that I’ve noticed was the wide array of 4K, officially known as Ultra HD, capable devices that were announced.
For those unfamiliar with the term 4K, it refers to the amount of pixels horizontally on a device; four times the resolution of standard 1080p; this puts it in at a whopping 4096×2160. In theory, these devices should deliver four times the picture quality of our current 1080p standard translating into more granular picture detail. Some would argue that the difference from our current 1080P HD resolution to the monstrous 4K is equivalent to going from standard definition to high definition.
Sony unveiled a new 55-inch and 65-inch– the X900A series that are set to launch later this year. They also announced a new “4K Ultra HD Video digital distribution service” to help incentivize early adopters to picking up the infant tech. Consumers will be able to download feature length movies from Sony Pictures and other production studios.
Sony currently offers the 84-inch XBR-84X900 that sells for a whopping $25,000. This model comes with it’s own personal media server loaded with movies from Sony to watch on the display.
On Tuesday, Panasonic unveiled its own entry into the 4K race. A 56-inch, 4K OLED (organic light-emitting diode) powered display. Since it is utilizing the OLED tech, it is considered the largest in its class. However, unlike the others shown at the event, this is merely a prototype and has no possible release date or price. More on OLED can be found here.
Panasonic may have seem to be tagging along on the bandwagon like everyone else, but there is one little gem that is setting them apart from their competition– a 20-inch 4K tablet prototype running Windows 8.
This beauty packs a 1.8-GHz Intel Core i5 3427U processor, 4GB of Ram, a 128GB SSD and is powered by nVidia Geforce graphics. The tablet weighs about 5.3 pounds so it’s not necessarily something your going to want to carry with wherever you go, but it can most certainly become a wonderful asset to professionals such artists, architects, engineers or even collaborating with a small team.
Like Sony, LG released an 84-inch 4K television about a little over a month ago. The biggest difference between the two is the price. LG’s contender comes in at $20,000. LG’s model also doesn’t come with the personal media server that Sony’s version ships with. Panasonic isn’t the only one separating themselves from the pack. LG announced the world’s “first”, curved OLED prototype TV. This unit features about a 5-inch bend which is said to offer a more immersive viewing experience. While not a 4K panel like the other, it definitely stands out from the rest. I purposely placed “first” into quotations because LG wasn’t the only one to debut something that’s never been done before…
Samsung also announced a world’s “first”, curved OLED prototype TV. They both were essentially using the same beneficial marketing points to justify how the curved glass offers a better viewing experience for the consumer. This curve removes the loss of detail and visual distortion found on the more traditional flat panels.
However, one aspect Samsung was able to claim as a world’s first was in 4K TV size. Samsung announced an 85-inch 4K, which marginally surpasses both LG and Sony’s 84-inch panels. There has been no word on pricing but it is rumored to be about the $30,000 mark. This all sounds and definitely looks very exciting but in reality it will be quite some time until these are adopted into the everyday household. Not considering the price (which is a huge consideration), content creation for such a high resolution will be a monumental task in itself.
Update: It looks like Samsung’s 85-inch beast mentioned above is now available for preorder in Korea. The going rate for the model is 40,000 won or $37,877 US. Official pricing and release for the US model has yet to be announced.